Existing home sales surge in September, major metropolitan areas see huge double digit home price gains in Q3 and single-family housing starts reach highest level since 2007. We take a closer look This Week in Real Estate.
“Home sales traditionally taper off toward the end of the year, but in September they surged beyond what we normally see during this season,”
Mortgage rates set record low for 10th time, U.S. mortgage credit availability dips in September, and new home sales are outpacing new home starts at a historic rate. We take a closer look This Week in Real Estate.
““With mortgage rates to remain near 3% for the next couple of years, homebuying activity is expected to stay strong for several more years,”
said Nadia Evangelou, a research economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, wrote on NAR’s Economists’ Outlook blog.
Homes sold two weeks faster in September due to unusual surge!
Pending home sales hit all-time high in August, homes sold 2 weeks faster in September due to an unusual surge in demand and another month of strong gains in August for single-family construction. We take a closer look at this week’s top real estate market stories This Week in Real Estate.
“Unseasonably high buyer interest coupled with historically low inventory and favorable mortgage rates are creating a perfect storm in the housing market.”
said Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com.
Purchase activity reaches the highest level in over 11 years, homebuilder sentiment posts biggest monthly surge EVER, and gain for single family permits points to building growth. All data indicates a surge in market activity This Week in Real Estate. Click here to read more.
We’re getting a better idea of how the worldwide coronavirus pandemic is impacting home sales as ATTOM Data Solutions releases its First Quarter Home Sales Report. Plus, a growing number of states are relaxing their social distancing protocols, but is it enough to cause the real estate market to thaw? And, homeownership rates are up despite the COVID-19 pandemic. We take a closer look This Week in Real Estate.
* U.S. Home Sellers Realized Average Price Gain of $67,100 in First Quarter of 2020. ATTOM Data Solutions released its First Quarter 2020 U.S. Home Sales Report Thursday, which shows that home sellers nationwide realized a home price gain of $67,100 on the typical sale, up from $66,264 in the fourth quarter of 2019 and up from $59,000 in the first quarter of last year. That $67,100 typical home-seller profit represented a 33.7 percent return on investment compared to the original purchase price, down from the post-recession high of 34.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 but up from 32.8 percent a year ago. “The national housing market continued at full throttle in the first quarter of 2020, setting new price and profit records as it entered its ninth straight year of gains. After it looked like things were settling down last year, the market has again roared ahead, with significant increases,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. “It is extremely important to note that the latest momentum is likely to hit a wall and reverse because of the drastic economic slowdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Americans are newly unemployed, and most people are practicing social distancing, which could bring things to a halt just as the Spring buying season begins. Despite that cloud, the numbers for Q1 still do remain upbeat.”
* Home Purchase Applications Rise as Coronavirus Slowdown Begins to Thaw. With a growing number of states indicating over the last week that they are moving toward relaxing the social distancing protocols put in place to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, it appears that the real estate market may be beginning to thaw. In recent weeks, home purchase applications have declined sharply as people simply weren’t applying for mortgages. But that trend may be reversing, as new data from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that home purchase mortgage applications recently rose to the highest level in nearly a month. “The news in this week’s release is that purchase applications, still recovering from a five-year low, increased 12% last week to the strongest level in almost a month,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.
* Homeownership Rate Up in the First Quarter 2020. According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), the U.S. homeownership rate reaches 65.3% in the first quarter 2020. This is 1.1 percentage points higher than the rate of 64.2% in the first quarter of 2019, but not statistically different from the previous quarter reading of 65.1%. Strong owner household formation with around 2.7 million homeowners added in the first quarter has driven up the homeownership rate, especially under the decreasing mortgage interest rates and strong new home sales and existing home sales in the first two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy. The HVS provides a timely measure of household formations – the key driver of housing demand. The housing stock-based HVS revealed that the number of households increased to 124.4 million in the first quarter of 2020, 2.0 million higher than a year ago.
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We’re learning more about the potential economic impacts of the coronavirus as described by leading financial institutions. Past pandemics resulted in a V-shaped recovery, which is a sharp decline followed by a steep rebound, with minimal impact on housing prices. Despite global uncertainty what we do know is mortgage rates the past two weeks experienced the largest two-week decline since December 2008, people are still buying and selling real estate, the government has passed the largest financial stimulus package ever, and jobless claims have hit record highs. Let’s take a look at a few newsworthy events influencing This Week in Real Estate.
* Looking To The Future: What The Experts Are Saying. As our lives, our businesses, and the world we live in change day-by-day, we’re all left wondering how long this will last. How long will we feel the effects of the coronavirus? How deep will the impact go? The human toll may forever change families, but the economic impact will rebound with a cycle of downturn followed by economic expansion like we’ve seen play out in the U.S. economy many times over. When looking at GDP (the measure of our country’s economic health), a survey of three leading financial institutions shows a projected sharp decline followed by a steep reboundin the second half of this year. A recent study from John Burns Consulting also notes that past pandemics have also created V-Shaped Economic Recoveries like the ones noted above, and they had minimal impact on housing prices. This certainly gives hope and optimism for what is to come as the crisis passes. From expert financial institutions to business leaders across the country, we can clearly see that the anticipation of a quick return to normal once the current crisis subsides is not too far away. In essence, this won’t last forever, and we will get back to growth-mode.
* Residential Construction is Bright Spot in Jobs Report, but More Workers Start to Stay Home. While overall construction employment fell in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, residential construction added 2,000 jobs. It remains to be seen how long that will last. In its second weekly survey of residential homebuilders, conducted from March 24 to March 31, the National Association of Home Builders found 64% of respondents cited problems with the willingness of workers and subs to report to a construction site up from 42% a week earlier. “Keeping construction going is essential to our economy in so many ways. Shelter is as critical as food and water. So we need to continue building so that there’s not a shortage of housing downstream, particularly affordable housing,” said Toby Bozzuto, CEO of Bozzuto Group.
* Mortgage Rates Drop on Fed Intervention. The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.33% this week, according to Freddie Mac, as the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program created demand for securities backed by home loans. Together with the prior week’s drop, it was the largest two-week decline since December 2008. The Fed revived its bond-buying program on March 15 in an attempt to grease the wheels of the lending markets and prevent the type of credit crunch that devastated the mortgage industry more than a decade ago. This week’s 17 basis point drop in the average 30-year fixed rate indicates it’s working. “That drop reflects improvements in market liquidity and sentiment,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Homebuyer demand has declined in response to current economic conditions,” Khater said. “The good news is that the pending economic stimulus is on the way and will provide support for both consumers and businesses.”
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is suspending foreclosures and evictions for homeowners with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed single family mortgage for at least 60 days due to the COVID-19 national emergency.
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) and the Federal Home Loan Banks are taking steps to help people who have been impacted by the coronavirus. Fannie and Freddie are providing payment forbearance for borrowers impacted by the crisis, which will allow a mortgage payment to be suspended for up to 12 months by qualified borrowers.
If your ability to pay your mortgage is impacted, and your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may be eligible to delay making your monthly mortgage payments for a temporary period, during which:
You won’t incur late fees.
You won’t have delinquencies reported to the credit bureaus.
Foreclosure and other legal proceedings will be suspended
This decision follows the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s announcement earlier this month to halt foreclosures and evictions for FHA loans on single-family homes for 60 days due to COVID-19.
If you have any concerns about your mortgage contact your mortgage servicer (where you send your monthly mortgage payments).
You can visit the HUD and FHFA websites for more information.
Economists are all over the board when it comes to predicting what’s next for our economy or how large of an impact the coronavirus will have on the housing market; however, new data on the condition of the market prior to the pandemic is giving us hope the market will bounce back when the pandemic passes. As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, here is what we do know… U.S. existing home sales climbed to a 13-year high in February, mortgage application volume remains high despite the rate of volatility, and residential construction remains strong as it awaits the coronavirus impact. Below are a few highlights from the third week of March impacting This Week in Real Estate.
“While the impacts of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 continues to impact the housing market, once the effects of the pandemic pass, more homebuyers are likely to return to the market,” says Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors.
* U.S. Existing-Home Sales Climbed to 13-Year High in February.
U.S. existing-home sales rose 6.5% in February, increasing to a 13-year high, according to the National Association of Realtors. Total existing-home sales completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops – rose to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.77 million. This means sales were 7.2% above February 2019’s rate.
According to Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, February’s sales of over 5 million homes was the strongest increase since February 2007.
“For the past couple of months, we have seen the number of buyers grow as more people enter the market,” Yun said. “Once the social-distancing and quarantine measures are relaxed, we should see this temporary pause evaporate, and will have potential buyers return with the same enthusiasm.” That being said, Yun noted that February’s home sales were encouraging but not reflective of the current turmoil in the stock market or the significant hit the economy is expected to take because of the coronavirus.
“These figures show that housing was on a positive trajectory, but the coronavirus has undoubtedly slowed buyer traffic and it is difficult to predict what short-term effects the pandemic will have on future sales,” Yun said.
Despite the market’s instability, of the four major regions, only the Northeast reported a decline in existing-home sales in February, while the remaining regions saw increases, including sizable sales gains in the West, according to NAR. Existing-home sales in the West jumped by 18.9% to an annual rate of 1.26 million in February, which is an 11.5% rise from 2019’s rate. The median price in the West was $410,100, increasing 8.1% from this time in 2019.
* Mortgage Application Volume Remains High Despite Rate Volatility.
After last week’s report on a record-busting week for mortgage applications what probably is surprising, as the country goes into virtual lock down over the coronavirus outbreak, is how strong activity remained.
“The ongoing situation around the coronavirus led to further stress in the financial markets late last week, with unprecedented volatility and widening spreads. This drove mortgage rates back up to their highest levels since mid-February and led to a 10 percent decrease in refinance applications. However, refinance activity remains very high,” says Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting.
The Federal Reserve’s rate cut and other monetary policy measures to help the economy should help to bring down mortgage rates in the coming weeks, spurring more refinancing. Amidst these challenging times, the savings that households can gain from refinancing will help bolster their own financial circumstances and support the broader economy. The purchase market was on firm footing to start the year and has so far held steady through the current uncertainty. Looking ahead, a gloomier outlook may cause some prospective homebuyers to delay their home search, even with these lower mortgage rates,” says Kan.
* Residential Construction Remains Strong as it Awaits Coronavirus Impact.
As anticipated, the two major data sets in February’s residential construction report declined from their January level but both construction permitting and housing starts maintained a significant edge over their performance in February 2019. February permits for residential construction were up 13.8 percent compared to a year earlier. Single-family permits were up 23.3 percent from a year earlier. Housing starts grew by 39.2 percent year-over-year. Single-family starts grew by 35.4 percent from a year earlier.
“Due to the slowdown in economic growth and the volatility in markets from the coronavirus, mortgage rates will remain lower for longer, which will help homebuyers in the longer run,” Kan continued, “However, we may start to see these homebuilding trends take a turn for the worse, depending on the industry’s ability to continue day-to-day operations during these difficult times.”